• Litwack v. Dreamline
  • January 7, 2016 | Author: Eric B. Horst
  • Law Firm: Thomas, Thomas & Hafer LLP - Philadelphia Office
  • Chester County Court of Common Pleas

    No. 2012-01333

    Decided: August 26, 2015

    Home improvement company that misrepresented its credentials to Plaintiffs was not liable for breach of contract, but was liable for attorney’s fees under the UTPCPL.

    Background


    The Litwacks Plaintiffs hired construction manager Dreamline, and general contractor Centaur Construction, for a home improvement project. Plaintiffs sued Dreamline and Centaur after numerous issues with the project. A companion case brought by Centaur Construction against Plaintiffs for unpaid fees was settled. Plaintiffs’ suit included claims for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, violation of Pennsylvania’s Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act (HICPA), and violation of Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL).

    Following a bench trial, the Court found in favor of Defendants for all breach of contract and unjust enrichment claims. The Court found that Centaur Construction committed a minor violation of the HICPA and the UTPCPL, but that the violation did not result in any ascertainable losses to Plaintiffs. The Court found in favor of Plaintiffs on its UTPCPL claim against Dreamline. The Court found that Dreamline and its owners held the company out as a limited liability corporation, when in fact no LLC was ever formed. The Court also found that Dreamline and its owners falsely represented that it was a member of certain professional associations. The Court found that this practice was a violation of the UTPCPL and that the Plaintiffs would not have entered into a contract with Dreamline if they had known the truth.

    Holding

    The Trial Court held that Plaintiffs were not entitled to actual damages under the UTPCPL stemming from the alleged breaches of contract because such damages were caused by Plaintiff’s own conduct and were not caused by Dreamline’s misrepresentations. However, the Court held that Plaintiffs were entitled to collect attorney’s fees from Dreamline under the UTPCPL. The Court awarded attorney’s fees to Plaintiffs for costs they incurred defending against the Centaur Construction action because Dreamline’s misrepresentations caused Plaintiffs to mistakenly believe that Dreamline was capable of professionally managing the payment of fees to other vendors and contractors. The Court also awarded attorney’s fees to Plaintiffs for costs it incurred in its action against Dreamline that were proportionally related to its UTPCPL claims.